Cape Town - Victims of gang violence in Beacon Valley begged Helen Zille on Sunday to bring the army into the area.
Loudspeakers roused the community to march against gangs and drugs as Zille visited the families of a child and a mother killed on the same night last month. She was leading a DA elections campaign there on Sunday.
Gangsters blasted a gaping hole in Julaydia Matroos’s life when her daughter was shot dead on March 8.
Jucinta, 12, was on her way to buy spices from the corner shop when she was hit by a bullet meant for a rival gang member.
Matroos wept on Zille’s shoulder when the premier paid her a visit.
“It’s not just a politics thing. She cried in our house. She felt our pain with us,” said the distraught mother. “It’s a big privilege that she’s here… to come talk in our community.”
Matroos said she had always been a DA supporter. She later joined Zille on a march through the streets, demanding more police patrolling the area, an end to drug dealing and gang violence.
“We are scared to send our children to the shops. They can’t go play in the parks because gangsters do their business there.
“All I want is for the community to stand together. We are more than the gangsters if we stand together. But the community is too scared.”
Jucinta’s grandmother, Mary Goliath, implored Zille to bring in the army to protect children. “Jucinta’s death can save other children’s lives,” she said. “We need to protect children against this evil. We will never get Jucinta back, but we must do something to protect other children.”
Further down the same street in Elizabeth Joubert’s home, four children lost their mother on the same night that Matroos lost her child.
Joubert’s sister, Farieda April, was shot dead as she went to buy curry powder.
It is now up to Joubert to take care of her sister’s children - including three-month-old Shanti, whose name means “peace”.
“It was their mother’s wish that I take care of them,” Joubert said. “It’s important for children to be in a stable house.”
Zille borrowed a pen from journalists to take down Joubert’s details and arrange foster grants for the four primary school children who lost their mother only a month ago.
Then the march began in earnest as Zille rode through Beacon Valley atop a DA truck, blowing kisses to the crowd and leading chants of “no more drugs, no more shooting”.
A group of about 100 people followed her, while others leaned over fences or hooted their support from passing cars.
She handed a memorandum about the “crisis we’re facing with gangsterism and drugs” to Captain Steven Daniels at Mitchells Plain police station.
“We want the army here to quieten things down so that the police can concentrate on investigations,” Zille said. “We are determined to get the gangs and drugs units reinstated.”
No ANC members attended the event, but provincial leader Marius Fransman released a statement soon after saying Zille was abusing victims of gang violence.
“The DA is soft on drugs, gangs and the regular killings of our children,” Fransman said. “It abuses the suffering of our people for its own agenda and gains.”